How to Treat Bulging Disk L5

An L5 bulging disk can cause back pain that radiates down the back of your leg, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your spinal column is composed of 24 vertebrae with disk between each bone. This anatomical structure allows a greater flexibility in your spine and your disk act as shock absorbers when walking or performing other activities. Medline Plus states that a bulging L5 disk can compress nerves and result in sharp pain in one part of the leg, hip or buttocks and numbness in other parts. In addition, you may experience weakness, or feel pain in the calf or the sole of the foot. Follow this plan to treat a bulging L5 disk.

Ice is an effective conservative treatment.
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Conservative Treatments

Step 1

Take small walks throughout the day to prevent your back from tightening up. Avoid lifting heavy objects. Lift light objects by lifting with your legs and not your back. Limit your rest to only one or two days.

Step 2

Apply an ice pack to your lower back if this is the origin of your pain. Place an ice pack on your back for 20 minutes, then, remove for 20 minutes. Repeat this cycle as often as possible to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Step 3

Apply a heat pack 48 to 72 hours after your symptoms begin to relax your back muscles and prevent stiffness. Alternate between ice and heat packs, if possible.

Step 4

Take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Aleve, Ibuprofen or Motrin to help reduce pain swelling. Follow the instructions on the medication label. Do not use these medications for an extended period of time without talking to your doctor.

Step 5

Ask your doctor or physical therapist about stretching exercises that you can perform to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles. Perform these exercises regularly to strengthen your lower back and reduce the pressure placed on your L5 bulging disk.

Step 6

Ask your doctor about an epidural steroid injection to reduce swelling and provide pain relief.

Surgical Treatment

Step 1

Ask your doctor about surgical treatments if conservative treatments are ineffective.

Step 2

Discuss the possible risk, complications and the expected outcomes possible surgical procedures, including laminectomy and diskectomy. Discuss current medical problems, current medications, conservative treatments that you have tried and previous surgical history.

Step 3

Follow the rehabilitation plan given to you by your doctor or physical therapist to increase your chances of a full recovery.

Step 4

Prevent future disk herniations by strengthening your core muscles, managing your weight, lifting heavy weight with your legs and avoiding twisting activities.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice pack

  • Heating pack

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication


Seek immediate medical treatment in you have acute or severe pain. Most L5 bulging disks heal with conservative treatment.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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